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Archive for the ‘Tofu’ Category

This past month I haven’t been blogging so much about each of the individual meals I have been making, although most meals have been photographed. So I thought I would do a little round-up of photos of the meals and a brief yea or nay vote on some of them.

Spinach Avocado Grapefruit Salad from In My Box

I enjoyed this salad, although my husband, who is not a big fan of spinach, did not. The oil in the avocado and then the tang of the grapefruit is all the dressing this needs. The leftovers even held up and made it into my lunch the next day. Yea for me.

Gingered Skirt Steak with Snow Peas from goodLife{eats}

Instead of steak, we used tofu ‘steaks’. We also omitted the oyster sauce and added 1/2 Tbsp more of both the hoisin and soy sauces. We served this over rice vermicelli noodles which I had attempted to pan-fry. (They didn’t turn out so great.) The stir fry was delicious and next time I will serve it over rice instead of the noodles. The noodles didn’t have much flavor and actually detracted from the rest of the dish. Snow peas were fresh from our garden. Yea for us both.

Baked Salmon (me) and Baked Tofu (husband), Stir-Fried Snow Peas with Scallions and brown rice

I baked the tofu in Book of Yum’s Yummy Grilled Tofu marinade. And the snow peas and carrots were sautéed in sesame oil with green onions. I baked my salmon with a red pepper/five spice powder rub and a rice vinegar/honey marinade. It was very tasty. Yea for us both. And yea for using up the rest of the snow peas we had from our garden this year.

Sichuan Tofu with Garlic Sauce from Fat Free Vegan

We’ve made this dish before and really enjoy it. We used canned, sliced water chestnuts instead of fresh ones. On the side we had some brown rice and steamed broccoli. I follow Susan’s recipe for the most part except I have found that we like a little more sauce in the final dish and so I double the marinade. Yea for us both.

That’s it for now. More to come this week…

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A couple weeks ago we ventured to the international market to get just a couple things. Uh-huh. As always we bought more than we went in for, but it was worth it! One of the items we bought was frozen lotus root. Whenever we see lotus root, my husband asks me to make him some just like ate in China. Since I haven’t tasted what he ate in China, I had to go looking for some ideas on what to do with it.

My first stop was Book of Yum. Sea always has great ethnic and vegetarian recipes on her blog. I found her recipe for Lotus Root Sesame Stir-Fry and decided it was the one to try.

We had the lotus root with some brown rice, fried tofu and a small salad with a sesame-soy dressing. The whole meal got full approval from the hubby. Although he did say that he would like the lotus root to have more of a vinegar flavor. But he really likes vinegar. And all of his food memories of China involve vinegar. So next time we will have to try our own recipe – with vinegar!

The lotus root that we bought was frozen. I thawed it slightly under cold water and then left it to drain and thaw in the colander for a bit. It was also pre-sliced and the slices seemed thick, about 3/8″, so I sliced each of them in half so that they would crisp up better. This seemed to work out well.

We only used half of the bag of lotus root for this meal so I have been finding other ways to use it. I did make Sea’s Lotus Root Chips and they weren’t bad but I think I may not have baked them long enough or the slices were too thick; they didn’t crisp up as well as I thought they should. We may try again in the future. I did add them to a recent stir-fry and they were tasty in there.

Our garden has been producing a lot of lettuce and we are trying to keep up with it, so I added a salad to this meal. Also to have a bit of green vegetables with our meal. I have been trying to make more of our own salad dressings lately so that we can better control the ingredients and the fat and sugar content. But most traditional vinaigrette recipes I find are the standard 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar and this feels too heavy on the oil for me. So I have been playing around with less oil.

I have found that I like to use a small (pint or less) glass Mason jar with a lid to make and store the dressing in, that way you can shake it up well when you are ready to use. But this time I only wanted to make a little bit of dressing, specific to this meal and didn’t want a lot of leftovers. Below is what I came up with. It swings wide from the traditional ratio but it was tasty and complemented the meal well.

Sesame – Soy Salad Dressing

1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 Tbsp soy sauce, gluten free

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp sugar

ground ginger

garlic powder

Mix all ingredients together in a glass jar or whisk in a small bowl.

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When most people think of grilling, they think of meat, poultry or fish. And I’ll admit that I do still like to eat grilled meat. Since I am the flexitarian and my husband is the vegetarian, we do periodically grill meat or poultry, for me. In fact, my vegetarian husband is quite good at grilling meat for me. And he has no problem making meat for me because we know that my body needs some meat from time to time and it is a good source of B12, which I have problems absorbing.

Over the years we have grilled many things. Some of our favorite things are grilled tofu, grilled mixed vegetables and corn on the cob. Recently we decided to break out the grill and start up the grilling season. Right now we are on a kick of grilled tofu, using Sea’s recipe for Yummy Grilled Tofu. I will also make this marinade and use on chicken, also yummy! The best way to make it is to slice the tofu into large slabs, typically 8 slabs per 1 pound hunk of extra-firm tofu. I then press the slabs between a large folded tea towel for 15 minutes or more. The less water, the better, the more marinade it soaks up. Then I marinade the tofu while I prep the other dishes.

We also like this marinade recipe from Cooking Light magazine for tofu and chicken. But if you are gluten free, just make sure you buy miso paste that is gluten free – some are made with barley.

As for grilling the tofu, it helps to either grease the grill a bit, as the tofu sticks, or to grill it on a piece of foil. We often use a piece of foil to ‘protect’ my husband from the meat cooties if we have also grilled meat on the grill that day.

We also like to make grilled mixed vegetables in a grill basket. Typically I chop up a lot of onion, slice baby carrots into thirds, chop up a red bell pepper and a head of broccoli and some of the stems and toss with some Italian salad dressing before it goes on the grill. We recently got a new grill basket from my mom, who sells Pampered Chef, and we like it a lot. We just wish it was bigger!

This particular time we also made potato packets – something from my Girl Scouting days. Slice some potatoes and maybe some onions, green bell peppers and/or carrots. Place one serving on a piece of foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper or whatever seasoning you’d like. Mrs. Dash, oregano, whatever. Put a small amount of butter on top and then wrap up the packets with an air-tight seal so that the potatoes will steam themselves. I also put about a tablespoon of water in the packet too, just before I fold up the last side.

Sometimes we will just grill an entire sweet onion. Be sure to make more than one though as these are tasty.  Clean and trim it and wrap it up in foil with some butter and stick it down in the coals. Delicious. Also great as part of a campfire meal.

It isn’t corn season here yet, although I have seen it in the grocery stores. Growing up in the Midwest with grandparents who grew sweet corn, I was spoiled. And it just doesn’t feel right to eat corn before the end of July. Plus it is grocery store corn and I am a bit of a sweet corn snob. So no corn here for us yet. But when we do make it, we typically soak the ears in the husks in some water for about 20 – 30 minutes and then just put them directly on the grill. Make sure you turn them a few times so that they cook evenly. Pull back the hot husks, carefully, with oven mitts, and top with butter and salt. Or you can try other toppings like this one I saw over at Snack Girl this week. I might have to try this soon!

We used to also grill Portobello mushrooms for my husband frequently – I am not a huge mushroom fan – but they have fallen out of favor lately, for no particular reason. He usually marinades them in garlic and balsamic vinegar.

This last time, we grilled pineapple for the first time. Pineapples were on sale and my husband loves pineapple, so I grabbed one. I did coat them in a ‘marinade’, though they don’t really need it. I made the sauce out of brown sugar, lime juice, butter, cinnamon and salt. It was very good but I think we could do without the extra sugar and fat and next time we will grill them plain or with just a bit of lime and cinnamon. We really did enjoy the cinnamon flavor with the pineapple.

What are your favorite vegetarian grill specials? We haven’t tried grilling gluten free pizza yet…have you?

This message is linked up to Gluten Free Wednesdays where this week’s theme was burgers. No burgers here this week but instead we have other fun stuff to put on the grill!

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We just made this last night and I HAD to post about them today! As you may have noticed, I normally lag a bit from when I make something and when I post about it. Not today. These got two enthusiastic thumbs up from the official taste-tester.

Last weekend we were on the search for vegetarian, gluten free oyster sauce for the Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps I posted about yesterday and so we made a trip to the big international market in town. I had a couple of key things on my list and the bean curd sheets for this recipe were one of them. Unfortunately they didn’t have them refrigerated or frozen; we asked and looked, multiple times. They only had them dried and they were already crumbled up pretty good. Those would be good for adding to other dishes but I knew I needed big clean sheets to make this dish. So we went to another Asian market down the road. We looked and looked and I was about to give up when we finally found them, next to the frozen ant eggs and thousand-year old eggs. (There were an awful lot of boxes of thousand-year old eggs – they were quite good at predicting how many to prepare, anticipating our future, ancient egg needs!)

So I grabbed two packages, not knowing the condition of the wrappers nor how many I needed exactly or how many were inside the package. When we got home I placed them back in the freezer and then read – and reread – Susan’s recipe over at Fat Free Vegan. (You should also read the original source of the recipe at use real butter.) Then yesterday, I took the wrappers out of the freezer and put them in the refrigerator. And I reread the recipe again.

I was a little intimidated by these simple bean curd sheets. My husband had come in from the garage as I was beginning to pull out the ingredients and asked me if I needed any help. I think he could tell by the look on my face that I wasn’t too sure about what I was beginning. And once I said I was fine, he happily escaped back to the garage and his refinishing project to let me figure this out on my own. He knows it is usually better that way. But it is always nice of him to ask.

So I told myself, how different is it from making spring rolls? Not very different, really. Same basic methods, just slightly different materials. And I can handle spring roll wrappers just fine. So, I opened the package of bean curd sheets. To my surprise, they unfolded into large circles, almost two feet in diameter. Wow. I needed to clear off some more counter space to work with these babies. I had anticipated that they would look more like Susan’s – large rectangles. But they weren’t. So I cut the circles in half, planning to use a full circle for each roll. The package had five and a half circles of tofu in it. So I had plenty. too much, in fact, and not enough filling to fill them all, so I made a small roll that consisted entirely of the bean curd sheets, no filling. (It was good too.)

The sheets are a bit awkward to work with but I was successful. No big mishaps. The hardest part was rolling and trying to keep them tight while not tearing the sheets. Using two sheets per roll helped with that issue as any errors with the first roll were covered up by the second sheet. If you read Susan’s post, she mentions that there are two types of sheets, one being thicker than the other. I think I had the thinner variety.

As is typical for me, I pretty much followed the original recipe to the letter (for the first time at least) and they came out wonderful! They weren’t the prettiest, not as pretty and tight as Susan’s but they tasted SO GOOD! And practice makes perfect, right? Luckily I have another package of sheets in the freezer!

The only change I made was to use fresh shiitake mushrooms instead of dried. But that isn’t much of a change. We made Susan’s five spice sauce to go along with them and I served them up with some stir-fried bok-choy.

My husband, the vegetarian of 14 years, said they reminded him of chicken. I had some chicken last week and I can’t say that the taste reminds me of chicken, but more that the texture does. Maybe it was the umami flavor of the shititake that he was tasting. A lot of people think shiitake taste ‘meaty’ anyway. Regardless, they were great, chicken flavor or not. It’s funny though now, as I look back at the photo above, they almost look like they have a fried chicken-like skin in the picture.

We liked the sauce but I actually preferred them without the five spice sauce. I liked the sweet soy sauce flavor already included in the rolls and the filling and I felt like the two were competing when I dipped it in the added sauce. I think next time I might add some other ingredients to the filling. Cabbage? Green onions?

Have you ever used bean curd sheets before? If you’ve made sushi rolls or spring rolls, you can make these.

Thanks to Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and use real butter for the inspiration and instructions!

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On the weekends, when I have some extra time, I will often tackle a new, time-consuming or difficult dish. Last weekend I tackled P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps. Heidi of Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom found a copycat recipe and recently made them for her family. So I decided to try my hand at making them vegetarian. They turned out great!

Be sure to check out the original recipe over at Heidi’s blog. I only made a few modifications.

I used fresh shiitake instead of the dried as they are so easy to find at our local Trader Joe’s. And I used a one pound container of extra-firm tofu in place of the chicken. I sliced the tofu into 8 slabs and pressed them between clean dish towels to remove the excess water. Then I cut the slabs into cubes about 1/4 – 1/2″ in size.

I did omit the oyster sauce as I have not been able to find a vegetarian oyster sauce that is also gluten free. Yes, they make vegetarian ‘oyster’ sauce – it is typically made from mushrooms – but we were unable to find one that was safe for both of us after looking at the international market, an Asian grocery and Whole Foods. If anyone knows of one that is gluten free AND vegetarian, please let me know. I am not sure there is one to be found.

So, instead of the oyster sauce, I increased both the Hoisin and soy sauce to 2 tablespoons.

Initially when I read the recipe I was concerned about the amount of oil used (5+ Tbsp) and so I started out using a lot less but found I needed to add more as I went along. I am not sure in the end whether I used less than called for or not. So, use your judgment and start with less if you want, but I think you will need to add more, just like I did.

The rice noodles were a lot of fun, like Heidi says. The key is keeping your oil the correct temperature, and Heidi’s suggested temperature is right on. Initially my oil started getting too hot and the noodles were burning before I could get them out of the pan. When I brought the temperature back down, they were perfect and even if I couldn’t get all of the little guys out of the pan on the first scoop, they didn’t burn as quickly and I had a little leeway to chase loose noodles around the oil without them burning. Also, you don’t have to make very many noodles. I broke up a bunch of noodles in preparation for frying them and I ended up with a huge plate full, of which some were burnt, but I still had way too many. So our chickens got to enjoy the extras and the overly crispy, burnt ones.

Just a note, if you are cooking for someone who requires a gluten free diet, be sure your ingredients are gluten free; in particular, the hoisin sauce, soy sauce and oyster sauce.

So, if you are gluten free and vegetarian, you can now try some Lettuce Wraps! Check out P.F.Chang’s gluten free menu – they only offer the chicken wraps gluten free, so they aren’t an option for everyone. Perhaps they don’t make them vegetarian because, like me, they can’t find a vegetarian and gluten free ‘oyster’ sauce? Hmm…

Enjoy!

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Artichokes!

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in a Meal Plan Monday post, I had never tried fresh artichokes. Yes, I have had them in dips and I eat the jarred hearts in salads and such, but I had never actually made fresh artichokes. My husband, on the other hand, has made them, but just for himself, as I was still not very interested. You see, I had this babysitter growing up that made them frequently and I thought they had a weird smell. This made me not want to eat them. Now, almost 30 years later, I have tried them and liked them!

I have to say too, that my inspiration was my friend Heidi over at Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom. She has recently had a food revolution of her own, and on a bigger scale than just being gluten free, and joined our local CSA as part of her action plan. She has been receiving new vegetables in her boxes and artichokes were recently one of those items. Like me, she had never had them before – maybe it is because we are both from the Midwest where they aren’t as common? She was successful and her whole family enjoyed them so it gave me the courage to try them too! And so I used her microwave steam method and lemon dipping sauce recipe.

To go with them, I made an old stand-by recipe, Yummy Grilled Tofu, from another of my favorite gluten free bloggers, Sea at Book of Yum. This is one of our favorite ways to make tofu. The toasted sesame oil really makes it sing. We frequently grill this but I also put it in the oven or under the broiler. On this particular evening, I lined a glass baking dish with foil and put the tofu, in its marinade, in the oven for a while. Be careful if you put it under the broiler in its marinade as you could get a flare up from the oil in the pan.

So, the verdict is – delicious! I’ll be making the artichokes again soon. What is your favorite artichoke recipe?

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I originally found these recipes in one of those free magazines you can pick up at the health food stores. There were a couple of recipes that we tried from this one cookbook and I thought they were so good that I was inspired to buy the cookbook from which they were from. But I am not as enamored with the cookbook as with these specific recipes. If you are a flexitarian or carnivore, you may appreciate the cookbook more as there are a lot of meat based Thai dishes. I also need to pull the cookbook back out and look through it again.

The tofu dish we have had quite a few times before and we really like it. As usual, I added more vegetables to this recipe. I also changed the sauce slightly from the original.

This was the first time I made the cucumber salad and my husband dug into that right away. He gave it ‘two thumbs up’ before I even got sat down in my chair. I’ll admit that I couldn’t keep my fingers out of it while I was making the tofu.

Spicy Tofu with Vegetables and Rice

Adapted from Complete Book of Thai Cooking by Linda Stephen

3 tbsp canola oil, divided

1 pound of extra-firm tofu, sliced

3 shallots, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups baby carrots, sliced into thin slivers

1 large red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

2 cups french green beans, fresh or frozen, in 1-inch pieces

3 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp black pepper

Turn on rice cooker. Slice tofu into 8 slices and place between the layers of a clean, dry towel. Place something heavy on top and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Slice each tofu slice into 8 squares.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in large wok or skillet. Carefully add tofu – it will splatter. Let cook for 3-4 minutes and then flip and let cook for 3-4 more minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel covered plate.

Add 1 tbsp oil to hot pan. Add shallots and garlic. Stir fry for one minute – careful not to burn the garlic. Add the carrots, bell pepper and green beans. Let cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and let cook for a couple more minutes or until carrots are tender-crisp. Add tofu back to pan and cook until heated through. Serve with rice.

Cucumber Salad

Adapted from Complete Book of Thai Cooking by Linda Stephen

3 tbsp rice vinegar, gluten free

1 tbsp soy sauce, gluten free

2 tsp sugar

1 large English cucumber, sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped

Mix together vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Add remaining ingredients, except peanuts, and let sit for 15 minutes. Serve topped with peanuts.

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